ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s Parliament approved an emergency bill Sunday to pave the way for thousands of public sector layoffs and free up $11.5 billion in international rescue loans.
The bill, which passed in a 168-123 vote, will allow for the first civil service layoffs in more than a century. About 2,000 civil servants will be laid off by the end of May, with another 2,000 following by the end of the year and a further 11,500 by the end of 2014, for a total of 15,500.
The legislation is the latest wave of Greece’s draconian austerity program. It agreed this month with its bailout rescue lenders — the European Union and International Monetary Fund — to implement the measures as a condition to receive new emergency loans worth $11.5 billion.
The permanence of civil servant jobs has been enshrined in all constitutions since 1911, a form of protection from wholesale sacking when the government changes hands.
To get around the constitutional protection, the bill stipulates the first layoffs will take place in state agencies that will be disbanded or merged.